Emotions 5 Emotion-Focused Coping Techniques for Stress Relief By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on May 24, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Amy Morin, LCSW Medically reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," and the host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Wesley Hitt/Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Benefits Meditation Journaling Reframing Cognitive Distortions Positive Thinking Stress management techniques can fall into two categories: problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. Basically speaking, problem-focused (or solution-focused) coping strategies aim to eliminate sources of stress or work with the stressors themselves. Meanwhile, emotion-focused coping techniques aid you in becoming less emotionally reactive to the stressors you face. They alter the way you experience these situations so they impact you differently. Emotion-focused coping focuses on regulating negative emotional reactions to stress such as anxiety, fear, sadness, and anger. This type of coping may be useful when a stressor is something that you cannot change. Many people think mainly of solution-focused coping strategies as the best way to manage stress. Cutting out the things that seem to cause us stress means we don't need to learn how to alter our responses to any stressors—there will be none left in our lives! However, it's not entirely possible to cut all stress out of our lives—some factors in our jobs, our relationships, or our lifestyles are simply prone to creating challenges. In fact, it wouldn't be entirely healthy to eliminate all stressors even if we could; a certain amount of stress is healthy. Benefits This is part of why emotion-focused coping can be quite valuable—shifting how we experience potential stressors in our lives can reduce their negative impact. With emotion-focused coping, we don't need to wait for our lives to change or work on changing the inevitable. We can simply find ways to accept what we face right now, and not let it bother us. This can cut down on chronic stress, as it gives the body a chance to recover from what might otherwise be too-high levels of stress. Another advantage of emotion-focused coping is that it allows us to think more clearly and access solutions that may not be available if we are feeling overwhelmed. Because stressed people do not always make the most effective decisions, emotion-focused coping can be a strategy to get into a better frame of mind before working on problem-focused techniques. In this way, emotion-focused coping can help with both emotions and solutions. And the two types of coping strategies work well together in this way. While problem-focused strategies need to fit well with the specific stressors they are addressing, emotion-focused coping techniques work well with most stressors and need only fit the individual needs of the person using them. Finding the right emotion-focused coping strategies for your lifestyle and personality can provide you with a vital tool for overall stress relief and can enable you to achieve greater physical and emotional health. Meditation Meditation can help you to separate yourself from your thoughts as you react to stress. So, you can stand back and choose a response rather than react out of panic or fear. Meditation also allows you to relax your body, which can reverse your stress response as well. Those who practice meditation tend to be less reactive to stress, too, so meditation is well worth the effort it takes to practice. The Benefits of Meditation for Stress Management Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares some techniques that can help you relax. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Journaling Journaling allows you to manage emotions in several ways. It can provide an emotional outlet for stressful feelings. It also can enable you to brainstorm solutions to problems you face. Journaling also helps you to cultivate more positive feelings, which can help you to feel less stressed. It also brings other benefits for wellness and stress management, making it a great emotion-focused coping technique. Journaling as an Effective Stress Management Tool Reframing Cognitive reframing allows you to shift the way you see a problem, which can actually make the difference between whether or not you feel stressed by facing it. Reframing techniques aren't about "tricking yourself out of being stressed," or pretending your stressors don't exist; reframing is more about seeing solutions, benefits, and new perspectives. 4 Steps to Shift Perspective and Change Everything Cognitive Distortions Recognizing the way the mind might naturally alter what we see, what we tell ourselves about what we are experiencing, and the ways in which we may unknowingly contribute to our own problems can allow us to change these patterns. Become aware of common cognitive distortions, and you'll be able to catch yourself when you do this, and will be able to recognize and understand when others may be doing it as well. How Cognitive Distortions Can Fuel Your Stress Positive Thinking Being an optimist involves specific ways of perceiving problems—ways that maximize your power in a situation, and keep you in touch with your options. Both of these things can reduce your experience of stress, and help you to feel empowered in situations that might otherwise overwhelm you. Benefits of Positive Thinking A Word From Verywell Not all problems can be solved. You can't change someone else's behavior and you can't undo a health diagnosis. But, you can change how you feel about the problem. Experiment with different emotion-focused coping strategies to discover which ones reduce your distress and help you feel better. How to Manage Different Stressors in Life 1 Source Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Amnie AG. Emerging themes in coping with lifetime stress and implication for stress management education. SAGE Open Med. 2018;6:2050312118782545. doi:10.1177/2050312118782545 By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.